Ortine vs. Motorino: Two Breakfast Pizzas in Brooklyn
"If Ortine’s breakfast pizza is a demure young maiden, Motorino’s breakfast pizza is her wild, in-your-face, no-holds-barred party animal of a friend."
Pizza is a good thing. Breakfast is a good thing. Even cold pizza for breakfast can be a good thing. It therefore stands to reason that gooey, fresh, oven-hot pizza for breakfast should be a very good thing. So we checked out two Brooklyn joints with very similar breakfast pizza concepts—but very different tastes and results.
This cozy Prospect Heights café is exactly the sort of quiet, homey place where I’d want to linger over breakfast. Luckily for me (and for late Brooklyn risers), breakfast is served all day, seven days a week. Spicy shakshuka or six-dollar waffles at all hours? Yes please.
But I was here for the breakfast pizza. Visually speaking, it’s a beauty, its thin crust blanketed in goat cheese and parmesan with a generous handful of chopped pancetta, a sprinkle of herbs, and two hard-cooked eggs looking up. The flavors worked beautifully together: juicy, not-too-lean pancetta with every bite of egg; the hint of rosemary; the tang of parmesan against the creamy, melted, goat cheese.
That said, I wished the eggs hadn’t been quite so set. Even a bit of runny yolk would have added another gooey, breakfasty dimension.
And as something of a pizza purist, I found the crust disappointing. Dry and cracker-like, it served as a decent and unintrusive base—it wasn’t tough or brittle, as many thin-crust pizzas can be.
But it wasn’t a crust worth eating on its own; the ends remained on the plate. By the time it appeared, I’d expected as much.
The first sign of a dried-out pizza is often the wait, and our pizza took around thirty minutes to arrive, despite a nearly empty dining room. And though I didn’t mind terribly, with morning light coming through the window and a mason jar mug of English Breakfast tea on the table, it’s never a good sign when a pizza takes its time.
As a friendly, comfy breakfast room, Ortine wins major points. Especially with free WiFi. And reeling back my pizza snobbery, I very much enjoyed the meal I had (though I’m not sure I $12-enjoyed it). As a creamy, cheesy, hammy breakfast, I would definitely endorse Ortine’s breakfast pizza. Just, perhaps, not the “pizza” part.
I’m a huge fan of Motorino. Wood-burning oven, chewy crust, reasonable prices, and toppings that walk the right line of traditional, seasonal, and unusual—my only complaint is that it’s not nearer my apartment. I guess that’s why God invented the L train.
So I had high hopes for Motorino’s Pizza Al’Uovo, a mainstay of their weekend brunch menu. And I wasn’t let down. Layered with fior di latte mozzarella, three fried eggs, pancetta, basil, and a quick grating of pecorino romano, it’s not dramatically different in composition from Ortine’s version—but the results couldn’t be farther apart.
If Ortine’s breakfast pizza is a demure young maiden, Motorino’s breakfast pizza is her wild, in-your-face, no-holds-barred party animal of a friend. This pizza explodes with flavor. The pancetta is smoky, sweet, and gloriously fatty, tiny cubes of bacon fat sprinkled right in with the bits of pink meat. The oil-crisped basil, sweet in itself, adds an unexpected bit of crunch and texture. The melted fior di latte is characteristically mild, a subtle, creamy counter to the sharp pecorino. And three quick-fried eggs, once punctured, ooze deep yellow yolk all over the pizza. A lavish splash of extra-virgin only adds to the fun.
Those who daintily dab the grease off their slices should stay away: this pizza delivers a beautiful pool of gooey cheese, runny yolk, pancetta drippings, and fruity olive oil. All cradled by Motorino’s tender, puffy-edged crust, emerging from the wood-burning oven in just four minutes and thirty-six seconds. (The beauty of having the oven in the open: you can time your own pizza.)
On Saturdays and Sundays, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., the Pizza Al’Uovo appears as part of Motorino’s brunch special, notable in itself—an entrée, coffee, and a glass of orange juice or Bloody Mary mix, all for $10. Not that their watery coffee is much to celebrate, but hey, a deal is a deal.
I only wish the Pizza Al’Uovo weren’t strictly a weekend event. I understand that eggy items sound better for brunch, but pizza this good should be a seven-day celebration. So Motorino, if you’re reading, consider this my official appeal: Liberate the Pizza Al’Uovo from the brunch menu. Serious eaters will thank you.